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Word of Welcome

H.E. Msgr. Paul R. Gallagher

Thank you very much, Your Excellency, for your kind words of introduction.

I warmly greet all the members of the Academy, the Ambassadors and other diplomatic representatives here, and also to the visitors of the Academy.

It is my honour and duty to convey to you the greetings of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State, who is accompanying the Holy Father on his visit in Egypt in these days. In a sense, I represent a bureaucracy with whom you seem to have had some difficulties and I therefore wish to assure you that this bureaucracy, though admittedly slow at times, is always well intended.

I entirely agree with the remarks of Professor Archer at the beginning of the meeting this morning. The theme that you are to consider in these days does indeed seem very timely. It coincides with many parallel narratives, such as that of a participatory inclusive Church, which the Holy Father has been promoting since the beginning of his Pontificate, or the insistence that “nobody must be left behind” of current UN speech and SDG aims. It is also timely when we consider the present world situation, which is dramatic to say the least.

It strikes me that setting your objective as a participatory society is opportune because much of what we experience today is a result of a non-participatory society. By this I mean a society in which people have either been obstructed in their political and social participation or in which, perhaps almost as serious, they have chosen not to participate. This, I believe, has been one of the great malaises of Western society in recent decades. A high level of wellbeing and economic, social and political security seems to have led people into a situation of taking for granted so many of the characteristics of our traditional Western society. And when this begins to unravel in a serious way, people begin to ask the question: “Why?”. Part of the answer lies in the political apathy characteristic of many of our countries, including many of those represented here this morning.

The low level of participation in national and domestic politics is quite worrying. So too are the lack of commitment to political parties and the declining involvement in trade unions and other such bodies. All of these factors, I think, have led to a non-participatory society. Hence, at this time, we need to promote greater participation. So, I very much commend your discussions and have great pleasure in greeting the Academy on this occasion in the name of the Holy See. I assure you of our support and our desire to work very closely with the Academy and to draw on the results of your deliberations, especially in the efforts that we are making at a political level here in our assistance to the Holy Father. In formulating my best wishes for your meeting, I thank you very much for your work. 

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